Who can resist the lure of fame and fortune? When you believe that this fame and fortune is inherently linked to the heart of the object of your desire, perhaps a man can be moved in ways unbefitting of him. This is a juxtaposition that faced young orphan, Seymour Krelborn, excellently portrayed by Deji Odunlami in Urban Aphrodites production of the classic hit show Little Shop of Horrors.
It’s a show that has captured the imagination of audiences, as well as theatre groups, across the globe since its inception as a play in 1982. It’s ability to be captivating, comedic and endearing, all in a little under two hours have helped maintain its popularity. And the performance at the (excellent) Pearl Theatre was no exception.
The production kicks off in a way that sets the tone for the whole show. That is soulful music, energy, excellent vocals and delightful harmonies.
After a chance encounter between Seymour’s recently obtained, ‘rather interesting plant’, and an eclipse of the sun, Audrey 2 is born. Riding the wave of success the plant brings the dilapidated Skid Row flower store, fortunes for the young ‘botanist’ look bright. Never mind the fact the plant is not interested in boring plant food or water, but is actually partial to something a little more ‘human’.
Whilst Seymour’s financial future looks rosy, he is still often berated by his greedy boss Mr Mushnik (JP Lopez), and all the time pines for the love of his rather entertainingly tacky co-worker Audrey (Julia Carey). In steps at this point one of the highlights of the show. Curt Mabry’s portrayal of Orin, the sadistic, motorcycle riding, leather clad, abusive Dentist is simply quality entertainment from the outset. The ‘Elvis’ impersonations and nitrous oxide induced dental work he performs had the audience in hysterics.
From beginning to end the rag-tag bunch of street urchins (played excellently by Jenica Brittingham, Britte Marsh , Charmika Stewart and Awesta Zarif) provide commentary, song and dance, and at times a light-hearted element to the performance. Their dancing and ‘doo-wop’ style vocals help create depth and substance to an already strong production.
Little Shop of Horrors has always been a riotous laugh right from the beginning, and Urban Aphrodite’s production is no different. A wonderful night of rock and roll, doo-wop and dark comedy made this one of the most entertaining evenings out in a long while. As I travelled home a happy man, I found myself uncontrollably humming away for the entire journey. “Little Shop, Little Shop of horrors….”.
Words by James Butler